Fishing hole shows promise [Sudbury Vale fish restocking] – by Kevin Priddle (Sudbury Star – April 21, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Members of Vale’s environmental department felt like ‘fish out of water’ when they launched the initial phase of their latest pilot project last November, which saw about 4,000 baby rainbow trout take up temporary residence at the company’s surface greenhouse in Copper Cliff.

But after five months of successfully raising the fish, the environmental team can now add “fish farmer” to their resumes and are excited to begin work on the next phase, which will establish a world-class sustainable fish farming operation 4,200 feet underground at the Creighton Mine greenhouse.

It’s an operation that will be the first of its kind, according to project leaders. The new initiative aims to restock fish supplies in local lakes that might have been stressed by recreational and commercial fishing, or environmental stresses from mining.

Vale has partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, local fish expert Mike Meeker and professors at the University of Guelph to work on the project.

“Northern Ontarians love their fish (and) Sudburians in particular love their fish,” Glen Watson, senior environmental specialist with Vale, said just as the now 20 cm-long fish were transported from the greenhouse to Onaping River to be released.

“There have been issues with the Onaping River in the past, with historic issues from the mining operations, but this is a thriving, healthy ecosystem today and we feel it necessary to give back to the community and give back to the river by putting these fish in the system today.”

After arriving at Onaping River in a special truck, the rainbow trout were scooped out of the tank with nets and brought — bucket by bucket — to the shoreline to be poured in.

When first released, the fish swam in a tight circular motion together, as if they were still in the 1,500-litre tanks in which they were raised. But as the rainbows became more accustomed to their new home — and all the extra space — the more adventurous of the fish began to leave the group to go out to explore the river system.

“We saw it as really a unique opportunity that didn’t take too much of our time and resources to raise a pretty significant and substantial number of fish to stock Ontario lakes, thereby providing angling opportunities (and) increasing biodiversity in local lakes,” Watson said.

“The ministry is very excited to be able to help out today with our fish stocking expertise,” said Lindsay Munroe, MNR communications and marketing specialist. ” It’s exciting for us because we already operate nine hatcheries throughout the province.”

“When we see that there is a lake that is a popular angling lake, we’ll stock that with the appropriate type of fish for folks to be able to have better fishing opportunities and if there are lakes that we’ve seen that are depleted with fish populations, then we’ll stock them just to bring the population back up.

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